Random musings—food and celebrities

Super Bowl noshes

I don’t really do a whole Super Bowl spread, but our Sunday meal was a little bit Bowl-ish, in that I made a couple of appetizers, which I don’t normally do unless the whole family will be here. I made guacamole, which is so fast and easy, you should never buy it pre-made. If you’re unsure how to choose a ripe avocado, because, you know, there’s a fine line between hard as a brick, perfectly ripe, and too far gone, here’s a handy little guideline. First, the skin should be pretty dark green, then look at the stem end, the stem should still be attached, but should come off easily. This isn’t scientific, but it usually works for me. Much better than squeezing.

My recipe is pretty simple: 3 medium avocados, juice of one small lime or half a larger one (use the rest to make a margarita), one clove garlic, and about 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt. Mash the avocados in a shallow, medium-sized bowl (I use my pastry blender, but a fork works, too), mince the garlic on a cutting board, then sprinkle the salt on top. With the flat side of your chef’s knife, mash and grind the garlic and salt together until you have a paste, add this to the avocado, and stir in with the lime juice. Taste, and adjust for salt ( a finer salt, if you’re adding at this point). That’s it. Simple, but delicious. The lime juice will keep it green for several hours, much longer than lemon juice, for some reason, and it tastes better, too.

Our other appetizer was one I got from Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Roasted Corn and Crab Dip. Oh my goodness, it is delicious, and easy. Did I say I like easy? The picture shows them using that fake snow crab that I really don’t care for, but the recipe calls for real crab. I think that’s odd, but whatever. I use the real thing. It doesn’t have to be top of the line lump crab meat. This isn’t crab cakes (I have an excellent recipe for those, too). We use bagel chips as dippers, but it’s really good on crostini as well.

I was so full from the appetizers that I barely had room for the main course, which was brats with peppers and onions. I split one with the toddler.

Speaking of the Super Bowl

I can’t really say much about it, because I don’t watch football, but I saw the Nationwide commercial with Mindy Kaling and Matt Damon, which I thought was genius. Mindy is always funny. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that she contributed to the writing of the ad. She was one of the writers and producers of The Office, one of my favorite TV series, and of course, she has her own series now on Fox, called The Mindy Project. She graduated from Dartmouth where she studied the Classics, but ended up with a degree in playwriting. She gave a hilariously genius speech last year at Harvard Law School’s class day and brought down the house.

Matt Damon is one of my favorite actors. Even if he’s in a bad movie (there haven’t been that many of them), he always rises above the material. He’s also a champion for teachers, and a philanthropist who co-founded the organization Water.org, and along with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Don Cheadle and others, the Not On My Watch Project, which aims to bring global attention to and prevent mass atrocities, such as those in Darfur. He also gave his time, along with other well-known actors, writers, and news people, to an Emmy-winning Showtime series called Years of Living Dangerously to bring awareness and education about climate change. I haven’t watched it yet, but it’s on my list. Matt is one of the Hollywood good guys. There’s never been a hint of scandal attached to his name, and he’s been married to the same woman since 2005.

What did this have to do with the Super Bowl, you ask? I digressed a little there, didn’t I? This is my version of Super Bowl watching. A couple of commercials, and then I’m done. I didn’t even watch the half-time show. I think they’re highly over-rated, and not usually my cup of tea. I hid out in the bedroom with a cup of herbal tea and Downton Abbey and Grantchester, and then went to bed. Apparently there was some fuss at the end of the game, something about a botched pass at the one-yard line. Don’t get your panties in a wad, people. There’s always next year.

Winter, I’m so over you

This Monday was the first one that the kids have attended school since before Christmas. We’ve had big snow or freezing rain every Sunday night, or early Monday morning in January. In fact, last Friday morning it started freezing rain while Gaige (middle school) was waiting on the bus at 6:30. The bus came, but the superintendent ended up delaying, and then canceling, school for the elementary and intermediate students, whose day starts an hour-and-a-half later. They’ve used all of their calamity days, and are into make-up days. So far, it hasn’t encroached on their spring break, but we still have a lot of winter left.

Our driveway, especially the area in front of the garage, is like a very dangerous skating rink. It’s been thawed and refrozen and frozen-rained on and snowed on so many times, I’ve lost count. The ice is about two inches thick. Something definitely has to be done about it before next winter. David said it needs to be graded and filled and brought up to level, or some drainage tile put in, or something. It would probably help if it were asphalted. At least it would be easier to plow. I don’t like to use salt, because the birds come to get grit, and it poisons them. And the sun never hits that area enough to melt it off completely like it does the rest of the driveway.

The maple syrup production was brought to a screeching halt by the extremely cold weather we’ve been having, after that little January thaw we had. It was really too early to start, and David knew that, but the long-range forecast was off by a lot, and it threw him off his game. The temps have to be below freezing at night, but well above freezing during the day with the sun being able to warm the base of the trees to bring up the sap. So, it’s on hold until we get a real thaw.

I just want Spring.

Have you heard?

Harper Lee has an unpublished novel called Go Set a Watchman! It’s a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. Actually, it was the first manuscript that Ms. Lee sent to HarperCollins Publishing, written as the adult Scout. They sent it back to her and told her to re-write it in Scout’s little girl voice, which they thought would be more interesting.  She did, and the rest is history. Now they’re going to publish the original manuscript written in Scout’s grown-up voice with no revisions whatsoever! I’m so excited I can’t stand it! I hope Ms. Lee lives to see it in book form. She is 88 and in fragile health. Hang in there, Harper Lee.

See you soon,


13 thoughts on “Random musings—food and celebrities

    • Jeanie, I wonder what kind of cliffhanger they’ll leave us with at the end of this season. I think they’re working on a relationship between Tom and Mary. I just wish they would let poor Edith be happy for once.


      • Did you see it last night? I’m putting on my prediction hat — well, not predictions, really, but guesses or choices — does Edith take over Gregson’s publishing business and become the next Nancy Mitford, but with a baby in tow? Does Granny fetch her from London and bring her back to Downton? Stay tuned — I know I will!


        • Oh yes! I never miss it! Even though I record it, I also watch it in real time. I think you’re right about Edith. She had already tried out her writing skills on that column she was doing for Gregson. I think she will become a great newspaper woman. I’m sure that her father will disown her, so she will have to make a living for herself and little Marigold. I think Granny will try, but Edith has a stubborn streak, and once Granny sees that she’s determined, she will back Edith 100%.


  1. Well I’ll be. I’ve been making guacamole off and on for a couple of years but never managed to get the right flavour, so I’ll be using the SusieQ method from now on! Am with you about football, although I do like the ads, which I just watch online. The Budweiser horses remain my favourites, although the WhenPigsFly ad this year charmed me. Possibly also because it was made by a Canadian guy on a super tiny budget. Not that I’m nationalistic or anything.
    Your front drive sounds like it should have boards around it and a couple of goalie nets. Mother Nature is doing all the ice work for you!
    Does David ever ship his maple syrup out of the country….?
    I didn’t realize Harper Lee was still alive. How amazing to think that her brilliance might shine again!
    Am hoping that you’ve got enough sanity stored up to cope with all those snow days….


    • Deb, I didn’t see the pigs one. I’ll have to check that out.
      Do they allow shipment of food out of the country, or more to the point do they allow it to come into other countries? I think you should just come and have pancakes or waffles with me. 🙂 It’s supposed to warm up some this weekend, so David thinks he might get a sap run for a few days.
      Well, the driveway is covered by another inch of snow, so for now, it’s walkable again. That won’t last.

      Harper Lee is made of good southern stock, and those southern flowers don’t wilt easily. Maybe I’ll read TKAM again to help me deal with this ugly winter. And there’s always Gregory Peck to ease the pain as well.


  2. Guacamole was our go-to appetizer in Liberia, but it always included tomato, too. Fresh, of course. And we ate it with homemade plantain chips. It was darned good, especially if someone had managed to score a six-pack of Heineken from the Lebanese merchant to go with it.

    Speaking of scores — no superbowl for me. As a matter of fact, I work up Monday morning not knowing who had won. It wasn’t that I made any big effort to avoid it. I just was busy, don’t you know! It’s funny. I used to watch, go to parties, know the commercials and all that, but I’ve gotten so tired of hearing about lawsuits, negotiations, ball-gates, misbehaving players… It’s turned into a soap opera, and I’m just not inclined.

    I wonder if Harper Lee just got tired of the whispers about Truman Capote really writing her book — or at least being the moving force behind it. It’s going to be fun to see what the new one turns out to be, and like you, I hope she lives to see it published.


    • Linda, I used to put salsa in my guacamole to jazz it up a bit, but after a while, I decided I like the purer form better, and so does everyone else. There’s never any left in the bowl now, where we used to have quite a bit. I guess that tells the tale, at least in this family.

      I never got into football, but, yes, the drama of it would be enough to turn me off. I’m not much of a sports fan at all, but I do get excited about some of them during the Olympics, especially downhill skiing. Those skiers are insane!

      I would say the rumors probably did annoy her, although she and Truman were best friends. Apparently her agent or lawyer found the manuscript stashed somewhere, buried long ago in a pile. I’m so happy that it didn’t get destroyed. I really hope it comes out soon. Maybe she’ll even give an interview. That would be awesome.


  3. Susan,
    I couldn’t believe it when I heard about Harper Lee’s new/old book. It’s exciting. I do hope she lives to see it published.

    I’d like to see that crab cake recipe. The guacamole recipe sounds delicious, and I copied and saved it immediately. Thanks for the info about how to choose an avocado. I knew about the dark skin but not the stem.

    I like Matt Damon, too. His mother is an advocate for early childhood education. He was taught well.

    As for the Super Bowl, I listened to a book while H watched. His team lost. My book was better.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Bella, I’m a little bit nervous giving you my crab cake recipe, considering your seafood history, but here it is. I love it, and I’ve had real Maryland crab cakes. I’m sure mine can’t compare, as they are using crab that’s probably fresh off the dock, but it’s the closest I’ve come, so far. Let me know if you think it needs adjusting in any way.


    3 (1-oz) slices white bread
    1/4 cup chopped green onions
    2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Hellmann’s Light)
    1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon Mustard
    1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or regular)
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
    1 large egg, lightly beaten
    1 pound lump crab meat, drained and any shell pieces removed
    Panko bread crumbs for dredging
    Olive oil

    Place the bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 1/2 cups. Combine breadcrumbs and next 10 ingredients (onions through crab meat) in a large bowl with a fork, don’t overwork ( I like to leave good-sized lumps of crab intact). Divide mixture into 8 equal portions; shape each lightly into a patty. Dredge in panko crumbs. Set aside until your pan comes up to temperature.

    Heat a couple tablespoons oil, or more if you think it’s needed, in a large non-stick skillet or cast-iron pan, over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook about 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serves 2 for dinner; 4 for appetizers.


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